Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's time for a man-to-man chat

Until a visit to my local pharmacy yesterday, I'd never heard of the Men's Health Forum. It's a registered charity that seems to be working alongside the NHS to issue a number of challenges to British blokes. Ten challenges, to be precise.

I've picked up a leaflet and a handy pocket-sized card that I guess I'm supposed to carry around with me. It warns me that one man under 75 dies every five minutes and is full of matey, patronising advice on how I can avoid a similar fate.

Among the pearls of wisdom is the notion that I should eat more fruit and veg. Not only does this reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, but it helps 'keep you regular'. Keep me regular? If I want that kind of advice, I can go to my mum, thanks very much.

"Chlamydia isn't a Greek island," continues the wag responsible for drafting the copy, as he 'challenges' me to a check-up. As soon as I've sorted out my constipation, I need to get myself down the clap clinic.

The whole approach is starting to make me a little angry, but I shouldn't forget about Challenge Number 5. "Stressed out? Walk away from tense situations before you blow up."

What kind of bulls**t advice is this? Most stress comes from personal and work relationships that we're often unable to walk away from. That's why they're stressful in the first place. (There's also, incidentally, some good scientific evidence that it's better to express your emotions rather than bottle them up, but that's a whole other discussion.)

And so it goes on. "Get your blood pressure checked in the next two weeks... show a doctor that thing on your body that's bothering you... if you get a backache, don't let it become a pain in the arse..."

One thing's for sure. There's only one pain in the arse here. And that's the idiot who's commissioned this confused, nannyish load of gobbledegook in the first place. My challenge to them is to look in the mirror and see if they are showing any signs of wasting taxpayers' money. There are no symptoms in the early stages, but it can become quite a serious problem in the longer term.

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